Paternal recognition of adult offspring mediated by newly generated CNS neurons

Nat Neurosci. 2010 Jun;13(6):753-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.2550. Epub 2010 May 9.


In mammals, olfaction is often used to distinguish individuals on the basis of their unique odor types (genetically programmed body odors). Parental-offspring recognition behavior is mediated, in part, by learning and processing of different odor types and is crucial for reproductive success. Maternal recognition behavior and associated brain plasticity has been well characterized, but paternal recognition behavior and brain plasticity is poorly understood. We found that paternal-adult offspring recognition behavior in mice was dependent on postnatal offspring interaction and was associated with increased neurogenesis in the paternal olfactory bulb and hippocampus. Newly generated paternal olfactory interneurons were preferentially activated by adult offspring odors. Disrupting prolactin signaling abolished increased paternal neurogenesis and adult offspring recognition. Rescuing this neurogenesis restored recognition behavior. Thus, neurogenesis in the paternal brain may be involved in offspring recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Paternal Behavior*
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / physiology
  • Prolactin / genetics
  • Prolactin / metabolism
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*


  • Prolactin